It certainly does – where the hell have the last 6-months gone? Well it's been a busy summer and if I'm honest, I didn't really think I had anything interesting to say, so unlike some bloggers who just seem to churn out pointless blogs for the sake of it I thought I would keep my powder dry until I had a decent subject to talk about!

Lets discuss a new approach to altitude training – Into Thin Air…

Altitude training is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance and is once again gaining popularity with coaches and athletes looking to gain a competitive advantage over their opposition. The performance enhancing effects of altitude training are well documented and have been studied for more than 40 years and it is a relatively simple means of modifying training stimulus (14). Despite a ton of research, relatively little is known about the underlying mechanisms resulting in improved performances but coaches will typically use hypoxia to stress the physiological systems (e.g.cardiovascular, neuromuscular, metabolic or hematological) (13,15). Historically the domain of endurance athletes, altitude training has more recently sparked the interest of team sport coaches and athletes, and they are keen to get in on the act. Can altitude training actually help athletes competing in intermittent team sports?

Hypoxia 101
Before getting into the nuts and bolts of the interventions that are currently being researched it’s worth going back to school to recap on some of the principles underpinning the use of hypoxia. This is not going to be a comprehensive review (there are plenty of review papers out there) but it will provide the fundamentals and act as a refresher.

Train High or Live High?
Altitude training comes in various shapes and forms, but broadly speaking there are two main schools of thought, each with its own set of vociferous backers.

Live High – Train Low
Developed in the 1990‘s (16) the Live-High-Train-Low (LHTL) model, where athletes sleep/live either in simulated or at real altitudes whilst training at sea level remains a popular option for endurance athletes. This method of altitude training is backed by research suggesting that LHTL can have a positive impact on performance outcomes (3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10).

Intermittent Hypoxic Training (also known as Train High – Live Low)
There always has to be an alternative and another option available to athletes wishing to boost performance is Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT). IHT is essentially the complete opposite of LHTL. Coaches and athletes wishing to take advantage of the IHT are exposed to short-term exposure to hypoxia whilst training. IHT is not a new strategy either; hailing back to 1930’s Soviet Union (1), but it has given rise to an interesting and rather unusual mutation, Intermittent Maximal Intensity HypoxicTraining (IMIHT).

IMHIT is the new kid on the block and whilst it’s origins remain in the IHT camp; it’s taken the traditional exposure times and drastically reduced them. If current research case studies and anecdotal evidence are to be believed, athletes no longer have to spend hours training in hypoxia, new protocols could get the job done in less than 5 minutes! Although differences exist between each training method, they all ultimately share the same goal: to bring about an improvement in athletic performance in normoxic conditions (at sea level).

Adaptive Responses
The primary adaptive responses to training at altitude or hypoxia are hematological (blood) related. Training at altitude or hypoxia (reduced oxygen levels) is a challenge on the body because oxygen is the primary source of energy for our cells. If an athlete trains in hypoxia, the body has to work ‘overtime’ to produce the required amounts of energy, with less oxygen available to do it. The outcome is improvement of the body’s oxygen utilisation. Pulmonary oxygen absorption is enhanced to allow more oxygen to enter the system (2) and erythropoietin hormone (EPO) levels increase which stimulates the production of RBC’s through a process known as polycythaemia. Increased production of RBC’s is precisely what’s needed to transport all that extra oxygen throughout the body. Increased capillarisation (density and length), provides an enhanced transportation network enabling increased oxygen delivery to tissues, muscles and brain. Mitochondria and mitochondrial enzymes get a much needed boost, allowing more efficient use of oxygen for energy production.

Other training related responses such as decreased heart rate and blood pressure, increased production & release of human growth hormone, stimulation of fat burning metabolism, phosphocreatine (PCr) re-synthesis, up-regulation of the glycolytic system and re-oxygenation rates may also contribute to enhanced performance outcomes.

Hypoxia and Team Sports

Hypoxic training has traditionally been the domain of endurance sports such as cycling, triathlon, swimming and athletics, indeed many of the UK’s top athletes have made use of hypoxic sessions to supplement their training. What may be surprising is that an increasing number of team sports are now exploring the application of hypoxic training in the physical preparation of their athletes. Emerging evidence that hypoxic training may be beneficial for athletes competing in events that have both an aerobic an anaerobic component to training and competition has sparked the interest of athletes and coaches working in team sports.

Hypoxic training and team sports wouldn't appear to be a marriage made in heaven. It just doesn’t seem like an obvious partnership does it? Initially it didn’t really make too much sense to me either. Apart from a brief play around with hypoxic training back in the late 90‘s when the first portable ‘tent’ based systems were introduced I hadn’t really given it too much thought. After all, most of my time in performance sport has been spent working with team sports and athletes that relied on strength and power. Developing lungs like dustbin liners and more red blood cells (RBC) than you can shake a stick at wasn’t always on the top of my ‘to-do’ list. Couple that with the technology that was knocking around at the time and it just didn’t stack up as a viable option. However, advances in technology coupled with emerging training protocols means it’s no longer just an intervention used by endurance athletes to effectively boost performance. A diverse range of sports including football, rugby league, rugby union, tennis, boxing and basketball are starting to use hypoxic training to prepare for domestic and international campaigns.

Thin Air and Team Sports
A concept that has always been of interest to me is the ‘minimal dose’ approach to training (what is the minimum amount of work required to induce training stimulus?). If there’s a way of achieving the same performance outcomes with less volume then I’m interested! Hypoxic training may be a solution, it can make the session harder, whilst maintaing a low training volume but creating a larger training adaptation. In my opinion, high intensity – low volume training creates the ‘perfect storm’.

So if you work in sports that require repeated high intensity efforts and are looking to develop and maintain high levels of conditioning without increasing training load significantly, maybe it’s time to explore some alternatives. Team sports are typically high intensity and intermittent in nature and repeated sprint ability (RSA) is an important component of training and competition. The ability to maintain high intensities without major fatigue can be crucial for success. The physiological demands placed on team sport players are high and the demands placed upon the musculoskeletal system during extended seasons are also considerable. Coping with the demands of increasingly long domestic and international competitions presents sport science and medicine teams with a number of issues. Support teams are faced with the daily challenge of ensuring that the whole squad is available on game day in the best physical condition possible, without breaking them along the way? Simply training harder is not really an option, so coaches need to train their players smarter.

IMIHT – The Perfect Storm

Hypoxia and physical training are both potent metabolic stressors (2). We know that when used independently of each other they can augment adaptations in the body’s oxygen carrying capacity and utilisation. So what if you combined the two interventions? It’s common practice to combine hypoxia and exercise training to improve athletic performance, and whilst research has shown improvements in a range of performance measures such as maximal oxygen uptake, increased mitochondrial density, capillary to fibre ratios, fibre cross sectional area, oxidative enzymes, capillary density and higher myoglobin content, it doesn’t always translate into enhanced athletic performance. One reason for poor performance outcomes could be due to the lower training intensities that have traditionally been used. Low training intensities have often been the tradeoff during hypoxic training, resulting in the main drawback of hypoxic training, lower absolute workload. On the one hand we see a lot of physiological adaptations in the research papers but these are countered by the low intensity training, so the net result is no performance enhancement and in the real world that equates to unhappy athletes and coaches! Not great if you want to reintroduce your athlete back to high intensity competition with minimal drop off in performance.

The key is to come up with a high intensity version of hypoxic training that won’t destroy the athlete. Fortunately, during the past 12-18 months scientists and coaches have been looking at the optimal configuration that will bring about the best performance improvements in team sport players using IMIHT. Much of the research is ongoing but early unpublished data points to some exciting
developments that may just create the ‘perfect storm’.

The ‘perfect storm’ is Intermittent Maximal Intensity Hypoxic Training (IMIHT). IMIHT works on the basis that training normal training responses may be enhanced by hypoxia. Athletes using a IMIHT protocol will work maximally for very short bursts (<10 seconds) under hypoxic conditions with incomplete recovery (<30 seconds) and is the focus of research currently being conducted by Harvey Galvin from the Altitude Centre in conjunction with London South Bank University. High intensity efforts combined with the added stimulus of hypoxia has been shown to bring about positive changes in muscular adaptation involved in oxygen delivery (17) as well as performance outcomes (11,18).

In 2011 Faiss et al conducted a study to look at the effect of IMIHT on RSA (18). Subjects performed 3 sets of 5 repeated sprints (10s work : 20s recovery) on a cycle egrometer. Each subject completed two sessions a week during a 4 week training block. The research team found that the number of sprints to exhaustion improved in the hypoxic group. Not bad for just 20 minutes of actual work over a 4-week period. But hold on, that was in cyclists, has there been any research looking at team sports?

In 2012 Galvin et al started to look at the application of IMIHT in high performance rugby league players and wanted to go one step better (11). The protocol they used was slightly different but the results were impressive. Players completed three IMIHT training sessions a week during a 4-week training period. This time the players completed the session using a non motorised treadmill and completed 10 x 6 second sprints with 30s rest between each effort. They also spent 5 minutes pre and post IMIHT in hypoxia. Whilst the total session duration was 15 minutes, actual time spent working maximally was just 60 seconds, that equates to just 12 minutes of IMIHT over the 4-week period! At the end of the 4-week period they found that the hypoxic group performed better on RSA compared to the normoxic group. The hypoxic group also enjoyed a 33% gain compared to 14% in the normoxic group when tested on the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, level 1. I’m not sure about you, but I’ll take a 33% improvement in performance over a 4-week period off the back of just 12 minutes of work!

So what can we take from this early unpublished research? IMIHT are intense! Athletes must complete multiple work efforts, which must be maximal, and sessions are completed at simulated altitudes of between 6,000-10,000 feet. When you add up all the numbers the overall total training volume is very low (60-128 seconds), that’s right, total training volume is a paltry 1-2 minutes! Don’t
be fooled into thinking that IMIHT is a walk in the park, it’s brutal and despite the relatively short volume of work, sessions can be very demanding and shouldn’t be performed prior to technical or tactical training sessions requiring quality movement. The benefit of IMIHT is that it would appear that training adaptations can be achieved using a range of modalities including bikes, offering a much needed rest from the constant pounding of the musculoskeletal system from running based activities. However if your happy for your athletes to be fully weight bearing you could complete the sessions on a treadmill (motorised or non-motorised) such as a Woodway Curve or similar. The key benefit of IMIHT is that the combination of intense efforts under hypoxia can maintain or improve fitness with minimal impact on overall ‘training time’.

If the initial research stacks up then IMIHT could be a great training tool. Clearly we need to develop a better understanding of IMIHT and the underlying mechanisms. How can just 12 minutes of work over a 4-week programme bring about improvements in performance? Six second maximal efforts just seem to be too short to be effective. Typically repeated sprint protocols based on the work of high intensity pioneers such as Veronique Billat and Martin Gibala have used short bouts of high intensity effort lasting just 30 seconds (12,19,20). Gibala has shown that low volume high intensity training provides aerobic and anaerobic benefits (20). Studies performed by Gibala have shown that just six sessions of high intensity interval training performed over a 2 wk period with 1-2 days rest between each session brings about positive changes in performance outcomes, (improved recovery and increased capacity) (20). Even though interval training has been proven as an effective training method, six seconds seems very short. Hypoxia has to be the key. High intensity efforts and hypoxia are both pretty potent stressors on their own and can bring about significant central and peripheral adaptations, particularly when the training stimulus is ‘unfamiliar’. In the absence of any hard science we can only speculate that whilst the nature of the exercise will undoubtedly bring about changes in performance measures, the hypoxic stress is providing an additional impact, over and above training in normoxia. The science is coming, but in the meantime how could coaches working in performance sport environments apply this first generation information?

Practical Applications of IMIHT
Load Compromised Players

Anyone working in high performance sport will understand that there will always be players with either acute or chronic injuries that need to be managed. One of the primary concerns of injured players is loss of ‘game-fitness’ and moving from a return to train phase into a return to competition phase is always a tricky process. As a coach I’m always on the look out for ways to develop injured players fitness whilst using the minimal load on the musculoskeletal system without compromising fitness gains. Unpublished case studies and anecdotal reports from sports as diverse as boxing and basketball suggest that IMIHT can be a huge confidence boost during rehabilitation. Athletes following IMHIT protocols similar to those outlined earlier in this report have been able to come back from injury midway through training camps and record personal best results in performance measures and fitness monitoring sessions. Using IMIHT allows the rehab team to reduce the effect of detraining due to inactivity. Sessions are shorter in duration and potentially have a lower training load. The use of IMIHT can be used during the management of players with both acute and chronic
injuries allowing players to rotate in and out of training sessions, reducing overall loading and training volume whilst still get a short sharp hit of IMIHT without aggravating their injury.

De-conditioned Players
Players sometimes struggle to find form and are not always in peak condition. Domestic and international competition seasons are long and tough and it’s important the players can sustain the demands placed upon them throughout the whole season. Often in pre-season players may turn up under the misguided notion that they will be able to ‘play themselves into shape’ but this approach just doesn’t cut it in modern sport. One approach that is often taken when faced with an unfit player is run additional conditioning sessions. This simply compounds the problem and adds additional loading onto an already deconditioned body, a recipe for injury! Using hypoxic sessions allows support staff to speed up the deconditioned players return to ‘match fitness’ whilst being able to work at lower training loads and volumes. For the first time there is an intervention that can have a significant impact on deconditioned players fitness within a short period of time (2-4 weeks) without exposing them to increased training volumes. Unpublished data produced by Galvin et al working with rugby league players suggests that repeated sprint efforts in hypoxic conditions can bring about a 33% gain in performance measures (Yo Yo Intermittent Recovery Test – Level 1) compared to normoxic group (14% gain) (11). The same research developed but the Altitude Centre in conjunction with London South Bank University also showed improvements in players fatigue index during RSA measures (20m repeated sprint). Data collected showed smaller decrement in speed from sprint 1 to 10 in the hypoxic group).

Players getting limited minutes

Within any squad there will always be players that get limited minutes “bench warmers” on court during the build up to a major tournament. It’s crucial that their fitness is maintained so that when they are called on to perform they are able to do so. Supplementing training during heavy competition periods with hypoxic sessions reduces the effect of detraining due to sitting on the bench. The use of IMHIT could be an effective method of maintaining the fitness levels players during heavy competition periods. Evidence from unpublished data indicates that there is a greater adaptation to RSA when hypoxia is used (11,18). One of the main benefits to be gained from hypoxic training is the low volume of loading in players needed to bring about adaptations. This is particularly important during heavy competition periods when overall training volume needs to be kept low.

Take Homes
Hypoxic training is nothing new and has been widely used throughout the endurance community. Whilst the endurance community have previously used various forms of hypoxic training, advances in the available technology and understanding of training stimulus is opening the door for other sports to look at alternative interventions and reap the potential benefits of IMIHT. Research on the application of hypoxia is equivocal in highly trained athletes but this may be because they have already maxed out their physiological potential. IMIHT may be a viable method for de-conditioned and load compromised athletes when you need to bring around a response is a relatively short time frame. The purpose of this report was to bring to your attention some of the innovative work that is
currently taking place related to hypoxic training and it’s potential application to a wide range of sports and settings. Clearly research into the application of IMIHT is embryonic with only data and anecdotal evidence from a handful of unpublished research to work on. More research is needed but initial findings would suggest that IMIHT could be a valuable training and rehabilitation modality. Should we wait for the research to catch up? Well if you work in sport you will know just how long it often takes for research to come round and verify what practitioners are already seeing. Remember, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence! However, some key questions need to be answered:

1.What is the optimal IMIHT protocol and the minimal dose response required to maintain and even
improve performance.
2.Can you use IMIHT long term or is it best suited to specific training blocks of 4-6 weeks?
3.Can IMIHT training work with highly trained, fully fit athletes or is it best used with deconditioned
athletes or in a rehab setting?

1.High Alt Med Biol 2: 205-221, 2002
2.J Appl Physiol 100: 1249-1257, 2006
3.J Appl Physiol 100: 1238-1248, 2006
4.Acta Physiol Scand 173: 275- 286, 2001
5.J Appl Physiol 89: 1189-1197, 2000
6.Can J Appl Physiol 26: 143-156, 2001
7.High Alt Med Biol 4: 291-304, 2003
8.J Appl Physiol 96: 931-937, 2004
9.Med Sci Sports Exerc 32(6): 1130-4, 2000
10.J Sport Sci 18: 411-419, 2000
11.Galvin et al Unpublished Research, 2012
12.Sports Med 31(1): 13-31, 2001
13.Sports Med 40(1):1-25, 2010
14.Scand J Med Sci Sports 18(1): 11-20, 2008
15.J Strength and Cond Res 26(1): 94-105, 2012
16.Med Sci Sports Exerc. 39(9): 1590-9, 2007
17. J Exp Biol 204: 3133-3139, 2001
18.Faiss et al 2011 Unpublished Research
19.J Physiol 586: 151-160, 2008
20.J Appl Physiol 98: 1985-1990, 2005


The Hips Don’t Lie…

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I've just spent 3-days with Duncan French working with a group of coaches on our 3-day mentorship. One area that we spend a lot of time on was 'movement', particularly multidimensional speed and agility.

I was watching Duncan take the coaches through a range of acceleration and deceleration drills, gradually building to a simple change of direction. At each point he asked the coaches to look at the hips…you see, the hips tell us which direction the next most efficient movement needs to take place in.

If your hips are square on when you decelerate you're next movement is going to be forwards or backwards. If you stop and open your stance diagonally, you've got other options available to you, forward/backward on the diagonal…

Whilst I was listening to Duncan, Shakira entered my mind (it's better than Duncan being in my head!) and the line from her song "the hips don't lie"

Now I'm really over simplifying things here but when you are looking at movement and change of direction, take a look at the hips – they'll tell you where the next movement should take you.

(smile Dunc…)

Categories : coaching, Duncan French
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Workshop Update

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I'm hitting the road again this summer and there are several workshops that I've just added to the schedule, take a look where I'll be in May and June…

May – Rehabilitation and Reconditioning – Arrowe Park Hospital on the 10th May. Click on the image below to get full details. This is normally a 'closed-shop' event but Chloe is throwing opening a limited number of spaces to outside professionals wanting to learn more about an athletic approach to rehabilitation.

May – Everyone Should Train Like An Athlete – Underground Training Station 11th May. Click on the image below for full details. I'm really excited about spending time with Neil Parsley and the team at UTS and I'm going to discuss the essentials of programme design and metabolic conditioning.




Read this…



What did you read?

1. Opportunity is no where?

2. Opportunity is now here?

This is a really simple illustration that most of us are conditioned to be 'negative'.

I read this in one of several books I have by Damian HughesThe Liquid Thinking Survival Guide To Change. Check it out, a great read for any S&C coach that wants to influence change and behaviour in athletes, coaches, parents etc. I'm working through a number of the exercises with one of my young tennis players who is facing a lot of change over the next 2-3 years.

What Damian goes on to explain is that research shows we are programmed to focus on failure and disappointment far more than success and achievement. He illustrates throughout his book how the mind can actually impact on our own moods and feelings. So what has this got to do with S&C. Two things:

1. Career – I hear a lot of aspiring coaches telling me that OPPORTUNITY IS NO WHERE – I can't get a job, I can't gain experience, I can't get an internship….I can't… I can't…. I can't. There are just no opportunities. Blimey, just writing that made me feel negative! I'm sorry, I'm not having it! There are opportunities everywhere, you just choose to view it with negative eyes. If you want to make it as an S&C coach you need to start seeing that OPPORTUNITY IS NOW HERE!

2. Performance – anyone working in sport will know that it can be a bumpy ride and the road to success can be tough at times. It is very easy to focus on the negatives. Now anyone that knows me will know that I don't go round blowing smoke up my athletes arses or hug them at the end of every session. I like a bit of positive feedback as much as the next coach but sometimes a reality check is needed. However, it's important as a coach to recognise when our athletes are falling into what Damian calls the 'pessimism cycle'. When faced with challenges it's all too easy to 'sledge' ourselves. What we need to do is remind our athletes of previous positive successes. All top level athletes have fear and negative thoughts, it's just that the really good ones are able to ditch the bits that don't help and hold onto the positive thoughts that do.

Life is not an endless cycle of positivity but the key to your success as a coach and the success of your athletes is how you chose to view the situation. View it through negative eyes and you will miss the opportunity that is right in front of you.

Let me know what you think…

Categories : coaching
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(Don't be one of these guys….)

Right, here's the deal – anyone that has picked up a copy of You're Hired by the end of today Friday 22nd February can grab the opportunity to join in a FREE You're Hired Masterclass.

I'll be contacting everyone next week about the specific arrangements but put the 14th March in your schedule. I'll be looking to kick off at 18:00 and will spend an hour answering any questions you've got about breaking into the profession. Here's what I cover in the video and I'll happily take questions on the night on any of these areas:

  • Effective Mindset for Getting a Job: How to approach things mentally
  • Standing out from the Crowd: How do you differentiate yourself from the 10,000 sports science students and personal trainers out there looking to break into strength and conditioning
  • The best educational route for YOU! How to decide which pathway you need to take to get what you want long term
  • How to create opportunities for yourself, don’t just wait for the job boards to call your name
  • How to get the job that wasn’t even advertised! (80% of jobs aren’t!)
  • HOW TO GET EXPERIENCE!! And which areas are preventing you from getting it and why
  • Networking: Who to spend time with and a FULL METHOD for developing long lasting powerful relationships that bear fruits at the end
  • Finding a mentor, someone who you can work with to develop yourself and your career over the years
  • Becoming a brialliant strength and conditioning coach: How to be remarkable at this profession. Another systematic approach is outlined. (This alone is worth more than this video alone!)
  • Getting your foot in the door: The all important CV
  • Doing your research around the role: the key things you need to be doing to put yourself ahead of the competition
  • Internships: What to expect, what to demand, and how to get a good one
  • Your personal development plan: Profile yourself and use it do develop in the right areas over time. This alone makes you stand well above the people around you
  • Goal setting for success: I'm not talking about athletes here, I'm talking about YOU

Here's a link to the video – grab it today and then get yourself ready for the masterclass in the 14th March!


Categories : career
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Move That Body…

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In a recent podcast I spoke about the importance of developing a coaching philosophy based on fundamental elements that pretty much sum up your 'style'. One of my key components is 'movements not muscles' – I like to use exercises that involve the whole body.

Last week I was delivering a workshop to physio's on programme design and I wanted to explain why this was so important. All too often rehab exercises focus on 'isolation' exercises (fine during early stages but at some point you need to challenge the system). Fortunately my friend and colleague had some science to help back my argument. I used this slide to show the delegates that whole body exercises stimulate the release of testosterone and growth hormone, both of which are pretty important for training and rehab.

One reason I like to use whole body movements during rehab and conditioning is because is fires up the hormonal system like nothing else.

So there you have it – if you need to slap down some muscle mass (either for the beach, performance or to repair an atrophied muscle following injury) – move that body!

Let me know what you think?


Dip For The Line

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Even if you are at the top of your game – you still need to dip for the line…

This is a very different topic. Not many strength and conditioning coaches talk about about how to break into the profession.

Typically you’ll attend all sorts of workshops to develop your technical skills, to learn how to go and lift or to do a particular type of strength conditioning. I think I increasingly, judging by the number of emails and enquiries that I’m getting that we’ve got a lot of people graduating now, or wanting to be strength and conditioning coaches that can’t break into the profession, or are becoming frustrated with how quickly they’re progressing through.



The idea for YOU'RE HIRED has been knocking around now for about two years. I remember, December 2010, sitting there and having this brainwave because I had just received another raft of emails that week from coaches asking the same question."How do I make it as an S&C coach?" So I’m sat there in my office sending out the same email response and I think…

You know what? I just needed to get this all sorted out put into one place.

So I sat there and wrote it all down and then did nothing with it for a year, which is a great start!

So then I sat there, December 2011, looking back at the things I said I was going to do and what I hadn’t and this popped up again. Right, I’ll get this nailed this year. Then I was chatting to Brendan Chaplin about workshops and I said, “Look, let’s try something a little bit different.” And that's what we did! I developed YOU'RE HIRED and in November 2012 we ran the first YOU'RE HIRED workshop in Leeds. 

I think there is a genuine need for it YOU'RE HIRED but I think it’s going to take a little while for people to actually realise that they need to be working on this aspect of their development. But the fact that you’re sat here reading this means you’re already one step ahead of the competition…you understand that you need to DIP FOR THE LINE.

YOU'RE HIRED gives you an inside guide as to how to get into the profession.

If you are serious about becoming a strength and conditioning coach you will want to watch the YOU'RE HIRED workshop.The video launches today for just £43.00 and will be available for just 5 days at this price. After Friday it will be priced at £57.00.


Categories : career
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We are back and we have set the date for the 2013 Performance Training Mentorship.

April 19th-21st 2013

This is going to be the only mentorship programme that we will run in 2013 (Duncan is flat out in his new role as head of S&C at the EIS down in Manchester and I'll be AWOL between May-August working on a variety of projects).

Apply now and join a select group of professionals in Newcastle at the 2013 PTMP. We will focus on educating you in foundational principles and methodology as applied to coaching, physical education and rehabilitation. This programme is not for the faint of heart or those without the commitment to excel, it is intense, intellectually challenging and demanding.

We combine both into a blend of theory and practice in a 3-day programme. This is an opportunity to observe, participate, question, and explore the application of training methods that we adopt in our approach to total athlete management.

The 3-day PTMP is just the beginning. After successful completion of the PTMP you will also have the opportunity to work with us as part of our specialisation series:

Specialisation Series Options include:

Evaluation and Monitoring

Programme Design

Strength and Power

Speed and Agility

Recovery and Regeneration

Energy System

Coaching Science

We can’t accept applications for the Spring programme after the 15th March 2013 and the next programme won’t run until 2014, so check out what we are going to cover in April and get yourself up to Newcastle for 3-days of hands on learning, backed up with solid theories and principles.You may even get time to have a night "oot on the toon!"

We are only accepting a maximum of 8 coaches onto this years programme

If you are thinking about booking on then follow this link for full details of the programme. If you have any questions you can fire them over to me on this e-mail address

>>>Performance Training Mentorship Programme<<<

I'm not going to do some long sales page – not my style. Bottom line is that if you want to learn directly from two coaches that are out there delivering on a day to day basis rather than a here today gone tomorrow internet guru you'll sign up! Simple.


Forget Shortcuts…

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I’m working my way through the latest addition to my book collection, Strength and Conditioning: Biological Principles and Practical Applications in preparation for a workshop I'm delivering in February (Performance Conditioning – 16th February, Leeds). It’s a real heavyweight book and well worth adding to your library. It does a fantastic job of working through the fundamental principles that underpin the physical preparation of athletes, something that is often overlooked in modern conditioning circles.

My highlighter pen has been working overtime and here are a couple of salient points that I’ve taken from the book so far:

“…in order to optimise athletic performance, athletes must be optimally trained…”

“…understanding how to apply the correct modality of exercise, the correct volume and intensity and the correct timing of various interventions is in fact the ‘holy grail’ of strength and conditioning…”

Obvious stuff right?

So how come so many coaches manage to get sidetracked from the fundamentals?

To become a great coach you need to drill the basics and whenever I work with aspiring S&C coaches there are three things that come very high up on my list of ‘to do’s’…

#1 Take a lesson from Goldilocks
Training variables and tools may change but your training principles should remain constant. Understand the fundamental training principles that are central to the development of high performance training programmes.  Once you understand the fundamentals you can learn from Goldilocks and learn to apply them in ‘just the right’ way to optimise performance.

#2 Don't climb the Penrose Steps
Making athletes tired is easy – any trainer can do that. Make sure your session isn’t simply an exercise in futility. To be a great coach you need to nail your programme design skills and develop programmes that actually deliver a training outcome. Understand how to manipulate short and long term training variables to bring about the performance enhancement that you are looking for.

#3 Embrace the art and science of coaching
Many graduates are coming out with all of the book smarts but none of the street smarts. Coaching is educating and there is a real art and science to effective coaching. Have you ever thought about your coaching style? Do you understand decision training strategies or how to use language more effectively to establish triggers and coaching cues that will elevate your athletes performances during training. It’s not what you know that is important, it’s making sure your message gets through.

I’m constantly striving to improve my skill set and reading through Strength and Conditioning: Biological Principles and Practical Applications has prompted me to make some last minute changes to my Integrated Performance Training workshop in February. I’ve had this workshop nailed for the past couple of years but it’s time to update it for 2013!!! I had best stop writing this blog post and crack on with updating the workshop! If you are coming to Leeds on the 16th February for Day 1 of the IPC Workshop Series, don’t panic….I’ll have it finished and you’ll be the first to see the new improved version!


S&C Trends for 2013

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I was recently asked what trends from S&C for 2013 would filter through to the big box gyms. If you actually Google fitness trends you discover pretty quickly that everything old is new again! What you also discover is that there are some training concepts that just don't make sense! Fusion training – really?

So what do I think can be taken from the world of High Performance S&C that will impact on what takes place out there for the masses…

Here's what I came up with.

I've coached a lot of female athletes during my career and I'm convinced that this is the way forward for females training to get fit and stay in shape. It's interesting that Jessica Ennis topped a recent survey of 'aspirational physiques for women' – trust me, she's not doing endless cardio classes and lifting 0.5 kg dumbells for tricep kickbacks!

The application of performance monitoring has really taken off in high performance sport and we are now starting to see this technology filter through into the mainstream. If your clients/athletes use this type of technology then you as a coach should embrace it and use the data to enhance the support that you are providing.

Let me know what you think – did I miss something?

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